Students get early release for two days

COVINGTON - Students in the Newton County School System will get some extra time out of class this week. On Thursday and Friday, all NCSS students will have early release days.

Elementary schools will dismiss students at 12:15 p.m. those days, and middle and high schools will send students home at 1:15 p.m. The schools will serve lunch before students are dismissed.

The elementary schools are releasing students early for parent conferences, while high schools are sending students home to provide staff development.

"Parent involvement is a key component to student success," NCSS Superintendent Steve Whatley said in a press release. "I encourage parents not only to schedule a parent-teacher conference but also to play an active role in their student's education by communicating with teachers throughout the school year, attending PTO meetings and, most importantly, monitoring student homework and study habits at home."

Parent conferences are held for teachers to discuss academic progress and performance of students before the schools issue report cards on Oct. 23. During the conferences, parents have an opportunity to ask the teacher any questions, discuss any concerns they have or just to meet the teacher, according to the school system.

Parents and guardians should contact their child's teacher or principal to schedule a conference for this week or at another time.

NCSS officials last reported that about 83 percent of elementary school parent-teacher conferences that were scheduled actually were held during that time last September. Some conferences were held at another time, and some were canceled for various reasons, according to school officials.

This week's early release is the first parent-teacher conference period of the school year. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13 before report cards are issued at the end of March.

Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for NCSS, said high school conferences aren't scheduled during this period because of the high number of students those teachers have.

"Parents always have the opportunity to communicate with teachers and schedule appointments when needed. In fact, it's highly encouraged," Viniard said.

The school system also encourages parents in all grade levels to check attendance, discipline and grades and to e-mail teachers directly with any questions throughout the school year.

"If you as a parent have Web access from a computer, you can use our free online student information program, StudentTrack, to keep up-to-date on your child's current status regarding attendance and discipline and, for sixth- through 12th-grade students, their grades," Whatley said in the press release.

The next break for students in NCSS is Oct. 3 for a student holiday and teacher workday, which precedes the fall break, scheduled for the next week, Oct. 6 to 10.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.